This Image Matters: King’s Chapel, c1905 – Boston, MA

Intersection at King's Chapel, c1904

King’s Chapel was the first Anglican church building in Boston. The current chapel, constructed in the mid-19th Century, sits at the corner of Tremont and School Streets, between Boston Common, City Hall, and Downtown Crossing.

Royal Governor Sir Edmund Andros and Lord Bishop of London, Henry Compton founded the church in 1686. At the time, no one in Boston would sell land for the construction of a non-Calvinist church, so the original structure was built from wood on public burial ground instead. The grounds, which had been the only public burial site in the city from 1630 to 1660, came to be known as King’s Chapel Burying Ground after the building was dedicated in 1689.

In 1749, architect Peter Harrison (1716-1775) designed a new chapel to replace the wooden one. A granite structure was built around the original over the course of five years. It wasn’t until construction was complete in 1754 that the wood was disassembled, and removed through the windows piece-by-piece. It was then sent to Nova Scotia, where it was used in the construction of a new Anglican church. Harrison’s granite building is sometimes referred to as Stone Chapel.

King’s Chapel has remained in operation for centuries, though it sat vacant for a brief period during the Revolutionary War, when many of its Loyalist members fled the area. Remaining members continued to meet there, however, and services resumed after a few months.

Stone Chapel is also noted for it’s bell, which was hung a decade after construction. It cracked in 1814, but was recast by Paul Revere, who called it the “sweetest bell I ever made.”

2016-1_Boston_memeAll this week we’ve been exploring the visual history of Boston throughout our social media channels. 

Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to explore the early life of American cities. 

A Look Back: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Clowns leading balloon animals, c1931.

Clowns leading balloon animals, c1931.

There are a few traditions that make holiday time in America what it is. Whether you watch it on TV while you’re cooking, see it on the news tonight, or crowd the streets of New York to get a glimpse, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a staple of our Thanksgiving routine.

The tradition as we known it began in 1924, when Macy’s brought the annual Thanksgiving parade into New York City. Many of the store’s employees were first-generation immigrants from Europe. Proud of their new heritage, they wanted to celebrate their new home with flair and festivity, as their parents had in Europe.

macy's parade 1st 1924

Macy’s employees during the first parade, c1924.

Those employees were the focus of the very first incarnation of Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade – dressed in vibrant costumes, they marched through the streets of New York, accompanied by marching bands, floats and even animals from the Central Park Zoo. The parade ended at Macy’s flagship store on  34th Street, where Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square.

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Colorized History: The 1901 Pan-American Exposition

The Pan-American Exposition was a World’s Fair held in Buffalo, New York from May 1 to November 2, 1901. The fair occupied 350 acres of land on the western edge of what is presently Delaware Park, extending out from Delaware Avenue.
An expansive and grandiose campus was constructed with elaborately designed, but temporary, buildings to host the millions of visitors that would arrive to Buffalo that year to celebrate the achievements of culture and industry in the Americas.
Our archives contain extensive photographic and video records of the important event, which thrust the burgeoning city of Buffalo into the national spotlight. Intrigued by historical records describing the campus at a “rainbow city,” we set out to recreate the colors of the Exposition.
Working with researchers from the University of Buffalo, we began colorizing a high-resolution black-and-white historic photograph of the campus, prominently featuring the Ethnology building. Layer by layer, we added colors selected and confirmed by the researchers, until we achieved a result we believe most closely visualizes the vibrant hues of the Pan-American Exposition.
We hope this Slideshare presentation gives you a greater understanding of our processes, and a newfound appreciation for the hours of work that go into creating that one perfect image.

They Did That: The Lost Custom of Thanksgiving Maskers

We’ve all got our Thanksgiving customs: food and games, specialty drinks and time with family. They get built over time, and seem like they’ll always be with us. But some traditions get lost over generations, as America culture grows and blends, and our cities adapt and change.

Thanksgiving masking is one of those traditions, prominent in the early-1900’s, particularly in New York City, that has been seemingly lost to time. But thankfully, those enterprising young photographers of early America were able to capture its spirit. For them, and all the history they recorded through their lenses, we at Historic Pictoric are eternally grateful.

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This Image Matters: Urban Planning, Architecture and The World’s Columbian Exposition – Chicago

World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, c1893

The World’s Columbian Exhibition, held in Chicago in 1893, came at a time of rapid growth and industrialization in the United States. It’s scale, and it’s attendance, surpassed all previous World’s Fairs. It became a symbol of the burgeoning nation, and a fully constructed template of what its cities could be.

Some of the country’s greatest minds came together for the fair’s design and implementation, their work creating echoes that could be heard in industry, arts and urban planning for decades to come.

Overseen by Daniel H. Burnham, and designed by such talent as Frederick Law Olmsted, the exposition grounds featured neoclassical buildings whose brilliant white facades earned the campus the nickname, The White City. The progressive and comprehensive design fused landscapes and promenades with structures and sculptures, foreshadowing a future where planners and architects would join forces to create a fully integrated urban design scheme.

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They Did That: Non-Stop Six-Day Bicycle Races

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The 6-day bicycle race was a wonder sport of it’s time.

The 6-day races first arrived in America in 1891 in a competition in Madison Square Garden in New York City. It sprung from a European tradition, begun in London 20 years before, which crafted competition around an enthusiasm for endurance and other novelties.

In America the race quickly become a public test of stamina and endurance, the riders progress limited only by their ability to stay awake. From the turn of the century to the 1930s, people would fill arenas to watch men on bikes whirring around the track, day and night, night and day. Small fortunes were lost, and won, on those crowded tracks.

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History Up Close: The Buffalo Harbor


Our work never ceases to amaze us. One of the truly remarkable things about the research and restoration we devote so much of our energy to is the ability it gives us to visually explore the minutia of daily life so long ago.

The time and detail we put into our restoration process means that these photos can go big. And because we’re working digital, not only can we print these photographs in a large format, we can also easily zoom in and get to the details of the scene.

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A Look Back: Denver’s Union Station

As Denver’s Union Station takes center stage this month for it’s progressive rehabilitation project, we would like to also honor the past of the monumental historic structure, which has weathered the waves of change that have swept through the city and country since it opened in 1870.

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This Image Matters: The Roebling Suspension Bridge, Cincinnati

Upon opening in 1866, the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge connecting the modest cities of Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington, Kentucky became the largest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge was a monumental achievement in engineering for its day, inspiring the design of its much-acclaimed younger brother, the Brooklyn Bridge.

Despite its groundbreaking significance, and the need for an easy flow of commerce between the two states, designers and bridge boosters faced adversity in getting their project off the ground. Skepticism stemming from the failure of smaller suspension bridges coupled with a widespread financial downturn just after construction began in 1856 to halt work completely within the first two years.

It wasn’t until the onset of the Civil War, and the very real threat of advancing Confederate troops, that the need for the bridge, as connector and mover of commerce, was universally acknowledged. Construction began anew in 1863 and, three years later, the first pedestrians walked across the completed suspension bridge, christening what would long remain a significant passage across the Ohio River. The bridge stands still.